Watch Out World: Carlo Enciso Catu, Film Director

Carlo Enciso Catu, award-winning film director of the Capampangan movie "ARI, My Life With A King" (Photo courtesy of Carlo Enciso Catu)

Carlo Enciso Catu, award-winning film director of the Capampangan movie "ARI, My Life With A King" (Photo courtesy of Carlo Enciso Catu)

He is a young film director who has captured a worldwide audience with “ARI, My Life With a King,” an indie Capampangan film in the Philippines. Carlo Enciso Catu, 22, graduate of the Holy Angel University in Pampanga, has bravely ventured into regional film directing. In “ARI,” he aims to preserve the lost art of Capampangan poetry, the movie’s theme. In the global landscape, Pampanga is a small province in Central Luzon, 65 kilometers north of Manila, with a population of a little over two million.
"ARI, My Life With A King", an indie Capampangan film produced by Holy Angel University's Center for Capampangan Studies (Pampanga, Philippines) has won global awards and worldwide acclaim. The film has been shown in the USA, Canada, Europe, India with more future screenings scheduled in other cities soon. (Image courtesy of Carlo Enciso Catu)

"ARI, My Life With A King", an indie Capampangan film produced by Holy Angel University's Center for Capampangan Studies (Pampanga, Philippines) has won global awards and worldwide acclaim. The film has been shown in the USA, Canada, Europe, India with more future screenings scheduled in other cities soon. (Image courtesy of Carlo Enciso Catu)

 “ARI” was produced by the Center for Capampangan Studies of HAU and was written by the center’s director Robby Tantingco. The movie is in Capampangan (with English subtitles) the province’s language, and yet its message has transcended geographical barriers by winning global awards.

Carlo Enciso Catu (right) with Ronwaldo Martin, lead actor of "ARI" (Photo courtesy of Carlo Enciso Catu)

Carlo Enciso Catu (right) with Ronwaldo Martin, lead actor of "ARI" (Photo courtesy of Carlo Enciso Catu)

Born to hardworking parents Carmelito M. Catu, a carpenter, and Maria Joy E. Catu, Carlo attributes his values to his supportive family. As a student, Carlo helped his mother clean classrooms and sold lunches and pastries to schoolmates for a living.

Catu was lured to directing after attending a filmmaking workshop in 2013 about how to watch a film. The sessions created a desire to make films.

“I wanted to make a film that immortalizes a colorful culture like Capampangan poetry, which has faded in time. We may not be able to go back to the past, but the truth is it is where we came from. Knowing more about it is how we can move forward.”

Carlo does not worry if it’s a niche market. “Regional filmmaking should not separate regions, but aim to give different voices, that music that makes us one nation.”

Catu added, “Filmmaking widens the regional audience, it expands moviegoers’ choices and speaks the stories we haven't heard yet, making us understand who we are.”

To date, “ARI” has been awarded these laurels: London International Filmmakers Festival, France, Best New Talented Director (2016); Ani ng Dangal, Film and Director category recipient; Metro Manila Film Festival New Wave 2015, Best New Wave Film; Manila Bulletin Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor; Manila Bulletin Indie Bravo, Awardee; All Lights India International Film Festival 2015, Best Debut Feature Film Director; Harlem International Film Festival, NY 2015, Best World Film.

Carlo Enciso Catu, at the the Golden Frame awards ceremony of the All Lights India International Film Festival (Photo courtesy of Carlo Enciso Catu)

Carlo Enciso Catu, at the the Golden Frame awards ceremony of the All Lights India International Film Festival (Photo courtesy of Carlo Enciso Catu)


Carlo reflected, “The worldwide acclaim changed the way I listen to people and see the world.”
Catu believes in his moviegoers. “We must have faith in our audience. They will support local and regional cinemas the same way we support American or foreign films.”

In a film, Catu tries to look for its heart, its honesty, what it wants to say and how much needs to be told. “ARI’s” message is powerful: We speak different languages, and yet we understand each other and respect our differences.

Through his directorial debut in Pampanga, Carlo has reached out to enrich the world, giving his audience a sense of purpose and leveling out the bumpy roads for other brave artists who will come after him.


Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey, is a journalist, food writer and member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She blogs about Filipino home cooking and culinary travels to the Philippines on her site AsianInAmericamag.com.


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